Parties want Mbete to make vote decision alone
While political parties represented in Parliament insist on secret ballot voting in the motion to remove President Jacob Zuma next month, they refuse to be part of the actual decision on this matter.
They want National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to take that decision alone. Friday was the last day for parties to have their say on whether the vote should be secret or not.
Despite the Constitutional Court clarifying last month that the powers to make a determination regarding voting procedures rest solely with the Speaker, Mbete invited views from interested parties regarding their preferred means of voting on this particular motion. “The views of the parties, considered together with a host of other factors, including the prevailing conditions, would assist the Speaker to arrive at a well-informed and logical decision,” said Parliament in a June 30 statement.
In their submissions, opposition parties want her to make the decision on the use of the secret ballot without involving them. The Constitutional Court ruled last month that the Speaker of the National Assembly has the discretion to determine whether a motion of no confidence should be voted upon by a secret or open ballot.
Confirming that the ANC had responded to Mbete, spokesperson for the ANC caucus Nonceba Mhlauli said the submission of the ANC parliamentary caucus was that it would respect and support whatever decision the Speaker made.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has previously said the ANC was not opposed to a secret vote, but that it expected its MPs to toe the party line and not vote with the opposition for Zuma’s removal.
In the DA’s submission, party leader Mmusi Maimane writes: “The Constitutional Court was quite explicit that this decision now lies with you as Speaker, and that whatever decision you take must meet the test of rationality. In the event that your decision is challenged at a later date, it will be a complicating factor to have asked leaders of parties for their views upfront, when these views will then form part of that later legal challenge,” said Maimane.
The IFP, which was the first party to call for a secret ballot back in the fourth Parliament, reiterated a point previously made in Parliament that if the president is elected by secret ballot, then he should be removed by the same as well.
The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa, whose party took Mbete to court on whether or not she has powers to allow a secret vote and won, urged Mbete to consider the protection of MPs and their freedom to fulfil their obligation to South Africans.
Holomisa made reference to the “widespread intimidation of ANC members in order to quell dissent within the party”, saying there were many examples of threats being made against ANC MPs and on their jobs in the National Assembly. “One cannot make the mistake of thinking these are idle threats.”
Holomisa also reflected on Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s “very violent analogy” when he likened ANC MPs who vote to remove Zuma to “suicide bombers”. He said this describes a potentially violent situation.
Agang SA, which also tried but failed to convince the Western Cape High Court that Parliament should use a secret ballot, advised Mbete to choose wisely and protect the country by allowing a secret ballot vote.
The FF Plus warned Mbete that if she decided not allow a secret ballot, she would be seen to be accommodative of Zuma’s view, which does not take the Constitutional Court’s judgment into account. This action, the FF Plus said, would constitute an irrational decision and would be taken on review.